PEARL ― The Mississippi Construction Education Foundation is recognizing three career and technical education standouts as its students of the month for December.

Selected from MCEF’s three districts are Shakindra Hunt, an advanced welding student at Winston-Louisville Career and Technology Center; Shane Kirk, an advanced welding student at Jones County Career-Technical Center; and Sam Kirkland, a carpentry student at South Panola Career and Technical Center.

Winners are chosen based on grades, attendance, discipline in class, outstanding achievements, leadership abilities, and post-graduation plans. All will compete for student of the year honors at the foundation’s annual awards program next May.

"We congratulate our student of the month winners for being such excellent representatives of high school career tech programs in Mississippi," said Mike Barkett, MCEF president. "We're proud of each of them for helping ensure our state has a highly skilled workforce to support the state's growing construction and manufacturing industries."

As a model student, Hunt earns the praise of instructors who describe her as self-driven with an unparalleled determination to succeed. She is a member of her school’s band and soccer team as well as SkillsUSA, the Technology Student Association, the Beta Club, and Family, Career and Community Leaders of America.

Hunt stands out in competitions, finishing among the best in the TSA-website design competition and the FCCLA Life Event Planning. In addition, she serves on the Mayor’s Youth Council and the Anchor Club.

Upon graduation, Hunt will pursue a position as an office worker.

Kirk owns a near-perfect average in welding and is a member of SkillsUSA, West Jones FFA and the Jones County Career Tech Student Council.

Of significance is his performance in regional and state welding competitions. His efforts earned him first place welding honors at the South Mississippi Fair in 2018 and 2019 in addition to his center’s High Five Award.

Away from school, Kirk raises and shows halter horses at regional and national levels, hunts, fishes farms, and is an active member of the First Baptist Church of Soso.

After graduation, he will study welding and precision manufacturing degrees at Jones College.

Recognized for his leadership in his career and technical education classes, Kirkland serves as president of his SkillsUSA chapter. His expertise earned him first place honors in the 2019 District SkillsUSA carpentry competition and a trip to the state championship in Jackson.

Kirkland touts a near-perfect grade point average and is a member of the National Honor Society and the National Technology Honor Society. He also competes on multiple teams at his school, including cross country and track, archery, and swimming.

Following graduation, Kirkland plans to study civil engineering at Mississippi State University.

MCEF is a non-profit educational foundation that provides NCCER craft training and credentialing in more than 100 career and technical programs across the state. The foundation’s mission is to train individuals for the construction and manufacturing industries in Mississippi.

MCEF also offers workforce training and credentialing in construction, industrial maintenance and manufacturing trades. Learn more about MCEF at